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Pac-12 athletes speak out on COVID, racism

Article Written by J.R. Eskilson
Published: August 3, 2020

The Pac-12 athletes are speaking out. 

Partly in response to COVID-19 concerns, and partly in response to larger systemic racism issues. 

Last week, the conference announced plans for a conference-only schedule that could kick off in September (with the focus of media attention on the football schedule). The tentative plan was the first mapped out schedule for a major conference in 2020. 

 

The news of the schedule was not universally met with approval. Numerous student-athletes spoke out on social media over the weekend about their concern regarding returning to athletics in the midst of a pandemic. 

The hashtag #WeAreUnited included the thoughts from student-athletes at every university in the Pac-12.

The Players Tribune published a piece on Sunday that was written by “Players of the Pac-12,” that spelled out some of the reasons for why the football players are sitting out and what they want to see changed during this period. 

“To ensure future generations of college athletes will be treated fairly, #WeAreUnited.

Because NCAA sports exploit college athletes physically, economically and academically, and also disproportionately harm Black college athletes, #WeAreUnited.”

The football players listed four demands that they wanted for both scholarship and walk-on athletes: 1. Health & Safety Protections, 2. Protect All Sports (specifcally mention Stanford’s recent decision to discontinue some sports), 3. End Racial Injustice in College Sports and Society, 4. Economic Freedom. 

While the players are trying to regain some control in the college sports spectrum, not all athletic programs have been happy with them speaking out. Theo Lawson of the Spokesman Review reported on Sunday afternoon that “multiple” Washington State football players who shared the #WeAreUnited graphic were dismissed from the team. 

Washington State women’s soccer standout Mykiaa Minniss shared the graphic on her twitter page on Sunday. Minniss has been one of the most outspoken players in using her platform to bring attention to important issues. She was a leader in speaking out about systemic racism earlier this year as well. 

 

As of Sunday afternoon, it was difficult to track down other soccer players who have spoken on #WeAreUnited. 

Soccer players might have more clarity about the season on Tuesday. Bryan Fisher reported on Friday that NCAA will meet on Tuesday to decide the fate of fall sports championships, which includes men’s and women’s soccer


 
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